Florida Supreme Court cites UF Law amicus brief in decision

Published: November 18th, 2013

Category: News

gavelBy Jenna Box (4JM)

The Florida Supreme Court cited an amicus curiae brief filed by the University of Florida Levin College of Law’s Center on Children and Families in its decision in favor of a woman whose partner left her and took their child when the relationship ended. “The Parentless Child’s Right to a Permanent Family,” by UF Law Senior Legal Skills Professor Joseph S. Jackson and Lauren Fasig, was also cited by the court in the Nov. 7 opinion.

Both parents are women, referred to as D.M.T. and T.M.H. The two were in a long-term relationship when they decided to have a child, who was conceived via assisted reproductive technology. T.M.H. provided the egg and D.M.T. gave birth to the child. The two raised the child for four years until D.M.T. left with the child, cutting off T.M.H. from the young girl.

The decision referenced a portion of Center on Children and Families’ amicus curiae brief and the law review written by Jackson and Fasig to recognize “the developmental and psychological importance for children in maintaining a relationship with both of their parents when those parents become separated.” CCF’s brief summarized extensive social science research that confirms the critical importance of these attachment relationships for children of same-sex couples just as for children of opposite-sex couples.

In the decision, authored by Justice Barbara J. Pariente, the court concluded that “the State would be hard pressed to find a reason why a child would not be better off having two loving parents in her life, regardless of whether those parents are of the same sex, than she would be by having only one parent.” The court held that Florida’s assisted reproduction statutes, as applied, violated equal protection by precluding same-sex couples from establishing their intention to conceive and jointly parent a child via assisted reproductive technology.

Jackson filed the brief last year on behalf of CCF and child advocacy clinics at several other Florida law schools, including the Children & Youth Law Clinic at the University of Miami School of Law. Its co-director Bernard P. Perlmutter was glad to hear the news about the decision and the amicus brief citation. “Congratulations Joe for doing such great advocacy,” Perlmutter wrote in an email. “This is a great opinion, obviously influenced by your thoughtful analysis and persuasive writing.”

“It’s always nice to have your work cited,” Jackson said, “but what’s important here is that the court grounded its decision in the realities of the family relationships the parties shared, and recognized that those relationships are crucially important for the child regardless of whether the parents are straight or gay.”

The Center on Children and Families at UF Law works to provide high quality advocacy, teaching and scholarship in the areas of child and family law and policy, and promotes child-centered, evidence-based policies and practices in these areas. It often files amicus curiae briefs in cases that fall into these categories.